Life in a Fishbowl

I started writing this blog on November 30, 2010 (which can still be seen HERE). That is going on 9 years now, a fact that is amazing to me, in that the purpose originally for the writing was to log on a daily basis what I was doing and what I was feeling. The first 6 months consisted of posts that were short, to the point, and really not that interesting to anyone other than me.

Or so I thought.

Over that same time frame, people started finding the blog on their own. Yes, I did the occasional post on Facebook that there was a blog and that there was content there, but what shocked me back then was that people were Googling about things I was writing about and finding the blog without any input on my part. This is how I met Dave Baldwin. This was how I met a number of other people, both here locally in Florida and all around the country.

I never thought what I said or felt made much difference to most people.

There has also been over the years numerous times where I rubbed some the wrong way or made a comment that was applauded by some and booed by others. Most of the time, probably 98% of the time, I couldn’t care less, but there were times where it mattered. In the course of all these posts, I have only removed ONE blog from publication. Only one. For you data geeks out there that is 1 in 852, or < 1%. It was a post that got a bit too personal about my family and my upbringing, and it hurt people I did not intend to hurt all for a need to “vent” about things I should be over mentally. So I removed it from publication.

It’s still not a bad track record, right?

The problem with blogging, and the podcast, especially doing it like I do, is that longtime listeners and readers tend to think they know you.

On a much larger scale, celebrities have the same issue. Because you watch their movies, TV shows, listen to their music you start thinking you have a personal relationship with them and understand how they feel about things. I am a very open book on the blogs and in the podcast about how I feel about things, and I share both triumphs and failures (or setbacks) openly and without regard to how it might make me look to some. The majority of the time this has been received well, but there have been a few occasions where I was “brought to task” by some who thought they really knew me.

The thing is, they really don’t know me. Only a very few know me, and even they probably discover crap in my head that shocks them.

“Being in a fishbowl, everybody looking at every move you make, talking about everything you do – it’s just a hard life to live.” ~ Allen Iverson

The life you have lived always, ALWAYS, makes you the person you are today.

There are no exceptions to this at all. You can make a choice whether your experience is something you embrace or eschew, but it still affects you. I was abused as a young man (something that might be news to some reading this) and it affected me. Luckily it affected me in the opposite manner, but there are more than a few instances of abused men and women becoming abusers themselves. Children of rape don’t always become rapists. Children of thieves don’t always become thieves.

But … sometimes they do right?

“Sometimes people think they know you. They know a few facts about you, and they piece you together in a way that makes sense to them. And if you don’t know yourself very well, you might even believe that they are right. But the truth is, that isn’t you. That isn’t you at all.” ~ Leila Sales, This Song Will Save Your Life

I am not saying all that in order to get into a debate over psychology or neurology or to discover causal links between all of that. My whole point is that how we were raised determines, to a large extent, who we are as an adult, for better or for worse. My underlying point is that reading a blog, or listening to me on a show, doesn’t mean you know my entire history, so if I have a reaction to something that seems … out of line or unnecessarily intense … it probably is due to something inside me that I might not even be aware of myself. I like to think I am a pretty self-aware person, and when I do overreact to something I am one that stews on it for a while trying to figure out the “why” behind it. This is not a new thing. I have always done this. I am not always able to get to the root cause, but many times I am, and I always feel a need to explain a reaction, especially if that reaction hurt someone’s feeling or confused a situation.

I had mentioned in the group and on the show an email I got from a long time listener and reader that called me out for a few things I had said on the show and on my blog after the Infinitus race in 2017.

I am not going to rehash all of it, but what I will say that my INITIAL reaction was … hostile … but I thought better of it and let it sit for a day before I responded or wrote anything about it. I shared the email with other listeners whose opinions I value and they were very helpful in guiding me through interpreting it. The bottom line was that if you read through the often ridiculous rhetoric, the writer actually hit on a few things that I had said on the show myself, so it was nothing new. Where the writer went off the rails was a few of the comments like “you never finish anything lately”, or “how can you be a good coach if you can’t do the events yourself?”.

Both stupid comments and can debunked rather easily. The point being here is that this person, because they have been part of this group and show since the inception, assumed they knew me as well as I know me.

They, of course, don’t.

They see your life through the lens of their own perspective and sincerely believe they have all the information they need to make these judgments.

When people comment without all the facts they lack real empathy. When I was on the climb up Mt. Romance these people were not with me, they cannot feel what I feel, or know how much the pain was. They assume they do. They see your life colored by the historical precedent of their own and don’t know about the external elements of your life which have shaped the decisions you make.

Perhaps they are intimidated by your evidently superior (wo)manliness and the only way they can find to assuage their flailing egos is to convince themselves you need their advice.

It is easy to stand and comment on the lives of others when we view one decision in a vacuum and don’t see the bigger picture. Don’t hold it against them or argue against it, you won’t change their minds. Those who care most about you won’t judge you and they will listen with the intent to understand; not with the intent to reply. Most people have already made up their mind of what they are about to say before you have even spoken. Ultimately only you will ever know what you have experienced to lead you to where you stand now.

I think Brene Brown said it very well:

“It is easier to CAUSE pain than it is to RECEIVE pain. Don’t work out your internal bullshit on me”

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